Fourth President of Luther College
Ove Jacob Hjort (J. H.) Preus, the fourth president of Luther College, was born on January 21, 1880 in Spring Prairie, Wisconsin to C. K. Preus, the second president of Luther College, and Louise Augusta Hjort. Both of his parents were members of well-known Norwegian-American families. He began to attend Luther College in 1895.
Ove Jacob Hjort Preus (1880-1951) A 1901 Luther graduate, Preus earned degrees in theology and law. He also "completed the course at Luther Seminary in 1904, and spent a year in postgraduate study at Johns Hopkins University in 1904-05" (Nelson 251). He served as a pastor in Washington and Wisconsin from 1905 to 1929. He served as president of two colleges, Augustana College in South Dakota and Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, serving as Luther’s fourth president from 1932 to 1948. His term at Luther spanned a crucial period in the college’s history, which included declining enrollments, financial difficulties, the possible loss of accreditation and rumors of mergers with other colleges. Highlights of his term of office included the institution of co-education, the Diamond Jubilee, the burning of Main, and major changes in the governance of the college. After weathering the Great Depression and facing World War II, he retired from the presidency on June 30, 1948. He taught part-time at Luther until his death on February 13, 1951.
Preus married Amanda Magdalene Forde in 1908. She was the daughter of Nils Førde and his wife Nora Otilia (Erickson) Førde. They had six children.